Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 487 × 612 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 334

Display caption

Bamborough Castle commands an imposing position on the Northumberland coast. Turner made his first drawings of it during his visit in 1797. This watercolour is one of several large studies of the castle, in all of which Turner has concentrated on the storm clouds in the distance, leaving blank the area intended for the castle. A finished watercolour of this subject exists in a private collection in America.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

As discussed in the introduction to the present section, this is one of four identified ‘colour beginnings’ for a large watercolour of Bamborough Castle (private collection)1 exhibited at the Graphic Society, London, in 1837; the others are Tate D25456, D25506 and D36321 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 333, 382, CCCLXV 30).2
The present study concentrates on the storm clouds above the coast on the left, counterbalanced by the castle, a glowing blank to the right. There is no sign of the boat struggling in the waves, the rocky beach in the right foreground or the figures introduced into the finished design.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.404 no.895 as ?c.1840; see ‘Bamborough Revisited’, Turner Society News, no.107, December 2007, p.1, reproduced in colour.
See Hill 1996, pp.78, 188, 191, Shanes 1997, p.93, and Piggott 2008, p.17.
Technical notes:
The area corresponding to the castle has been left blank or washed clean. There has been some lifting of the dark washes forming the clouds above the centre.
Blank; stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 334’ above Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII, 334’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
November 2012

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